Monthly Archives: March 2012

Vintage Japanese Handbag

Some days are diamonds…

Today, while in my vintage shop, Casarama, I had a gem of a little Japanese Handbag walk through the door looking for a home. Sorry, this one is not for sale, it’s going home for the Missus.

Image

Image

Image

Image


Photo of the Day – Saturday Is EPL Day

Image

Saturday is EPL day in my house. Time to watch English Premier League. Also, time to post one of my vintage soccer posters from my collection.


An Old Friend, A New Friend!

I moved to NYC in 1987. Shortly after, I needed a good carry-all for my urban needs. I searched high and low for a few weeks for the perfect backpack, debating over my options; leather, fabric, canvas, plastic. I kept walking by a fantastic old-world leather shop called The Village Tannery on Bleeker Street.

Image

The smell of leather emanating from the door every time I walked by made me stop and look in the window at the hundreds of bags, backpacks, briefcases, and handbags. I ventured in once or twice and found the selection to be overwhelming and a bit pricey for a 21 year old kid, but I couldn’t stop looking every time I walked by.

Image

I told myself I couldn’t afford this fine craftsmanship and in the end I opted for a trendy plastic see-through backpack from Patricia Fields. I tried to convince myself that I was done with my carry needs.

Image

A few weeks later I found myself again in front of the window at the leather shop. I began to reassess my plastic pack decision and began saving for a backpack I had spied in the dozens of options at the Village Tannery. In early 1988 I walked in and plunked down the $125 they were asking for the leather backpack I had been obsessing over. I never knew at the time what a great decision it was to become.

Over the next 23 years that backpack traveled with me around the world and back again. It has functioned as my luggage, my briefcase, and my friend. I oiled it once a year over the years and always treated it with respect. Each time I would pass by The Village Tannery I would stop in and talk about the bag and let them know it was still looking good. The last 3 times I have stopped in to show off my old friend they have tried to buy it back from me. I think they want to show off the quality to new perspective buyers. I never even ask how much they will pay me because this old friend is not for sale.

Image

This is the backpack after 24 years of everyday use and a once-a-year oiling.

Image

A close-up of the leather. No cracks, splits or major abrasions.

Image

Last year I was in need of a true business carry item. I needed a simple briefcase or messenger bag that was elegant. I looked up the website for The Village Tannery and of course, they had what looked like the perfect bag. The problem was there was no price listing and I wasn’t planning on being in NYC for quite some time. I thought and thought about calling them up to inquire, but knew that their bags retailed in the $300 – $500 range now and didn’t want to spend that kind of money without seeing it in person to ensure it would satisfy my OCD. In the mean time I came across a buffalo leather briefcase/messenger bag hybrid that had a concealed compartment on the exterior for your handgun, so of course I dropped the $300 on the spot and took the bag home. I carried the briefcase for 6 months and the whole time kept looking at what I didn’t like about it, comparing it in my mind to the messenger bag I had seen on the Village Tannery website. Somewhere in those 6 months I decided the bag I had looked like something you would buy at Tommy Bahamas, and I couldn’t stand the thought. I saw a trip looming in the future to NYC and planned a walk-by at The Village Tannery when we got there, “Just to look…”

It was exactly as I had hoped it would be.

Image

Image

The shop hasn’t changed a bit over the years, and while the prices have adjusted to inflation, they are reasonable for the quality. The messenger bag I had seen on the website was perfect. Sturdy, simple, functional. It was $350 and the deal was sealed when the old gentleman saw me looking at the lack of closures on the bag and said, “We can put some magnetic closures on the back of the main flap and you wont even see them when it is closed.” I paid the gentleman and headed back to Oregon to wait for the bag to arrive in the mail (I saved the sales tax by mailing it home, which also gave them time to put the closures on). I panicked for a brief time over the fact that I didn’t discuss in detail the closures they were to install and was convinced it would arrive with visible grommets or stitches on the front of the bag, spoiling the simplicity. I just knew I would hate what they would do and was convinced I would have to go back to the Bahama bag. When it arrived at the house I waited for a few hours before opening it to inspect the massacre and was so happy to see that they had thought ahead and  installed them in an ingenious way to where you couldn’t detect a thing from the front. I was thrilled! My search is over and I am free to move on to another obsession. I will continue to carry my old friend for my travels but will proudly carry my new friend to business meetings. I will also continue to stop by the Village Tannery whenever I am in NYC and who knows, maybe someday I will sell them back my old friend… Nah…


Photo of the Day – Sun’s out!

Image


Photo of the Day – March Madness.

Image


Photo of the Day – Euro Cup is Coming.

Image

1920’s Soccer Player


Photo of the Day – Make sure you wear your helmet when you ride your bike…

Image


Everyday Carry Submission

So, I follow the blog EDC (everyday-carry.com) to keep up on the latest pocket gadgetry. I became obsessed with flashlights and knives and wallets and…

I had to take a photo of my carry and submit and now must wait to see if the administrator finds the contents worthy of publication. Since I have limited patience I thought I would throw mine up here while I wait.

Image

Vintage Italian Bone-Handled Switchblade – You gotta love the switchblade. It brings back memories of West Side Story knife fights. We are lucky that we can actually carry these in Oregon.

Vintage Sterling Silver ID Bracelet – .925 and HEAVY.

Walther PPK – My favorite handgun. I know why Bond carried one. Fast and smooth.

Tag Huer Aquamarine Chronograph Watch

120G iPod – 21,000 songs. I don’t like to put music on my phone. I also do not leave home without it. I recently subscribed to Apple’s iCloud Music Match service to see if my phone would suffice, but I am having tons of problems with iTunes now that I synced all my computers. It may force me to have to move my principal iTunes library to another computer, which will take me 100’s of hours to reorganize the Goddamned library. Ohhh, don’t get me started… Proper music organization has been a primary obsession-compulsion for years.

iPhone 4 – Can’t wait for a higher resolution camera.

BelArno Wallet – I am obsessing over the Makr Carry Goods Horizon Three wallet so I am sure I will have to get one soon. It took me months to find the BelArno and I was happy to finally find one with enough storage in a small enough footprint, but now I want even smaller.

Surefire G2 LED Flashlight – Not small but it fits all my guns. I have a Maratac AAA on the way to replace this as a carry piece. This will go permanently on my AR15.

Persol Eyeglasses with Transitions Lenses – I’ve been wearing Persol sunglasses since the 1980’s. Sadly I cannot go without prescription glasses anymore so I had to order up the Transitions.

Keys – Cant wait for Retina scanning or fingerprint recognition or microchips or something to get rid of bulky keys.

Make sure you check out EDC and have fun with the carry obsession.


Estate Sale Madness & the American Pickers

Sometimes, on my quest for vintage goods, I get up way too early in the morning and venture off to push, shove, and run around like a fool, at estate sales. This week one of my local estate sale companies posted a listing for a hoarder’s collection of junk that I knew would bring out the worst of my fellow estate sale cronies. The listing said that the sale included tools, furniture, vintage fishing tackle, and a huge collection of glassware. It was accompanied by teaser photos that showed the range of items I knew would cause the old-timers to get up WAY too early for me to compete. I decided the night before to set my alarm for an hour before the numbers were handed out so that I could show up in mid-pack and pick over the leftovers.

The next morning I stumbled out of bed and headed out the door earlier than expected, arriving an hour before the numbers were to be handed out. I knew it was a blow-out as soon as I turned down the long country lane and saw cars lined up on both sides of the street, parked like the drivers had been forced to abandon their vehicles in the wake of a nuclear detonation. A ramshackle crowd of people were dashing back to their cars from the head of the chaos, forcing me to believe that perhaps the sale had been canceled, or there were so many people that the faint of heart had turned around in disgust to abandon the carnage. I parked and began my walk, keeping my head down while avoiding eye contact, so as not to hear anyone telling me how lousy it looked. As I entered the driveway and scoured the scene for the sign-in sheet I was amazed at the numbers of people that had shown up. Way more than even I imagined. I pushed my way into the crowd of people straining their necks to get a glimpse of a treasure, like rubberneckers trying to see the bloody victims at a crash site. When I reached the front of the crowd I looked down at the clipboard to discover that the numbers were already handed out, as I had overlooked the listing’s fine print that stated that the numbers would be given out at 7am instead of 8am to accommodate the large collection of needless crap that was being offered for sale. I said my hello to the estate sale boss and he handed me the number 77.

The sale was to be opened in 2 phases; first the outside at 8am so all of the items getting soaked in the rain could be rummaged through, and then a garage and tool room at 9am.

Image

It was 7:05am, 38 degrees, and raining, so I headed back to my truck to wait. Just outside of the parking lot I saw an old friend huddled in his running vehicle with the heat on. He waved me to the passenger side to climb in and chat about the pending treasure hunt. The walk was shorter than my truck and I was curious what had dragged him out to the sale so I climbed in. He told me he had gotten here at 5:45am and had been number 24 on the sign-in sheet. The first person got here at 2am! My friend was after some vintage fishing gear and a small pile of antique baseball bats he saw in the photos but knew he would have a slim chance at #24 of getting what he came for. He could only hope that the sheer quantity of merchandise would confuse the first 23 ahead of him and he would be luckier than the others at heading to the exact spot he had calculated the gems would be displayed.

We talked for an hour and went over the photos on the website with my iPhone to plan his strategy. I was simply hoping that because I collect oddities that don’t interest as many people that I would come away with something. At 5 minutes to 8am the restless herd began to slowly crowd around the entrance to the outside arena. As soon as more than 3 people had positioned themselves in a small crowd the game was on, the blood had entered the water, causing a frenzy of activity as those with low numbers rushed to position themselves in their proper pecking order. Those with higher numbers simply pushed themselves up front and refused to move, thinking that the lower numbers would see the determination and give up. The worst in human behavior was beginning to rear its ugly head. My old-timer friend danced his way past the stubborn herd to take up his position while I hung way back, knowing that by the time my number was called people would be thinning.

Image

The most annoying thing about the whole day was that I heard the term American Pickers at least a hundred times. “Do you think the American Pickers would find some great things here?” “I wonder if the American Pickers are going to show up?!” ” I’ll bet the American Pickers would walk by half this junk, just like they do on the television.” “Have you seen that new show called American Pickers? It’s better than McGyver!” I think I’m going to have to unfriend Mike and Frank on Facebook. I will, however, remain Facebook friends with Danielle, as I like her burlesque banter.

Once the gates were open it was a mad dash for who-knows-what. You would think they were giving away donuts at Walmart on Black Friday the way people got all worked up, grabbing as much as they could hold, then shuffling off to a corner to inspect what they had grabbed, like Gollum leering at his Precious. I waited my turn, sauntered in and watched the characters overturn tables, rip through boxes, and fight over who touched “it” first. It is amazing to see the things people will buy at an estate sale that they would pass up for half the money in my retail vintage store, Casarama. I need to figure out how to create a chaotic shopping atmosphere in the store so that people will buy stuff they ordinarily would give to Goodwill.

I picked up a few things but talked myself out of buying them by reminding myself that I would have to sell them for twice the price in my store to the same people that were here at the estate sale, as I had noticed during the cattle-call that I saw several of my previously regular customers at Casarama with numbers in hand waiting to get in. I wondered why I hadn’t seen them in the store for the past few months. They are in the junking business now. I secretly am hoping that they come back into my store to ask for advice on opening their own store. If they do I am going to tell them that they should buy as much inventory at estate sales as they can find and get opened as quickly as possible because I am doing so much business I can’t keep my shelves full and I need a place or two to refer the hundreds of customers that have seen American Pickers and bought everything I had for sale and now want some really great vintage glassware and tea cozies. After evilly thinking this I told a couple of my ex-customers rummaging about that I was selling the Hell out of vintage hand saws and that they should get some, since I had seen 2 garbage cans full in the corner of the yard.

Image

All the saws were gone later, so I either missed the boat, and they are going to be a hot seller soon, or I will have someone come into Casarama next week to ask me if I want to buy 200 rusty saws for $20,000 because the Roadshow had one last week for $100.

The only thing I found outside was a vintage microphone… I have since knocked the mud off of it and it shows well. Here it is pre-cleaning:

Image

The second entrance phase at 9am was a total cluster-bungle. They asked the cattle to organize themselves by number in a line (their first mistake – assuming the animals could organize anything in their adrenaline infused state)  and that they would let the first 25 people in, then 5 at a time afterwards as people came back out after hunting (their second mistake – assuming the first 25 would ever come out). It took an hour to get to 77. By 77 I was frozen. As expected there was nothing left that was worth anything. The scene looked like a grocery store after a hurricane warning, with everything strewn about and upended. I had been acquiring vintage yardsticks over the past year for a project so I was pleased to find that an entire bucketful had been pushed back into the corner and deemed not worthy by the people looking for the latest Antiques Roadshow highlighted treasure. I headed out to the estate sale boss to haggle a bit, which is frowned upon at estate sales, but, hey, 76 people before me hadn’t given the yardsticks a second look and I was willing to buy in bulk. As I was negotiating a price for the entire lot a nosy-noseface shoved in to bark, “Hey, why you bargaining with HIM?!” while thrusting his neck and chest in my direction, to which I replied, “I spend THOUSANDS of dollars a year with this company, what do you spend?”, sending him away with a grunt to pay for his 50 cent vintage ball point pen.

Image

It was a long morning. I always find something so I don’t get too worked up. I will skip the next couple of estate sales, as I always do after attending the first of the season and witnessing the human depravity, but will inevitably come back to another in a month or so, once I have told myself I am missing out on something really cool, or I am told a fishing story by a picker-friend about the $5 item he bought at the last sale that he sold for $10,000.

I will be back. I can’t help myself. It is among my greatest obsessive-compulsive hang-ups, the hunt for the vintage find. That horsehide jacket or Eames rocker or taxidermy animal. I’ve been doing this since 1987. From New York City to the Alemeda Flea Market. From Paris to El Rastro in Madrid. With the Missus and our kid. With good friends and educated competitors. Buying, selling, searching. Always with another project in mind.

Image


Yankee Hooligan’s P-Town Timbers Supporters

Yankee Hooligan's P-Town Timbers Supporters

New Yankee Hooligan’s Portland Timbers Supporter Logo